Dylan Deasu had a season-high 28 points on 14-of-20 shooting, which held off Texas State after a late surge by Penn State and led the Longhorns to their first regional in 15 years with a 71-66 second-round victory. NCAA Tournament Saturday night.
The second-ranked Longhorns (28-8) made just 1 of 13 shots from 3-point land, so Disu made it a mid-range game. He went 5-for-5 over the final 4 1/2 minutes and had 10 rebounds for a good performance.
Sir’Jabari Rice scored 13 points for Texas, which will play the Pittsburgh-Xavier winner in the Midwest Regional semifinals on Friday in Kansas City, Missouri. The 11th-ranked Panthers meet the third-ranked Musketeers on Sunday.
Kamren Winter scored 16 points for the 10th-seeded Nittany Lions (23-14), who won their first NCAA Tournament in 20 years. Second-team All-American Jalen Pickett had 11 points and 10 rebounds with seven turnovers.
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Andrew Funk (12 points) and Seth Lundy (11 points) each picked up after a scoreless first half, but the Big Ten’s top two 3-point shooters were a combined 4-for-16 this season. Penn State was 8-for-28 from deep in the second half despite a steady stream of clean looks.
The outside shots that each team relies on in the first round largely dried up, with the Longhorns going 31:18 without one before Rice hit seven 3s on Thursday to make it 55-48.
The Nittany Lions responded with a 10-0 run. Miles Dread, the only guy with outside rhythm, hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game to cut the deficit to one with 6:08 left. After Winter gave Penn State its first win since 4-3 with a pair of free throws, Timmy Allen made a wild layup for a Texas turnover that Lundy followed up to make it 58-55.
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But Disu came back with three straight baskets, a layup, a jumper and a layup to give Texas the lead back for good. Winter made a crucial back-and-forth call with 1:59 left after a timeout, when Marcus Carr finished with a layup for Texas.
Carr fouled Lundy for a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left in a four-point play that made it a one-possession game, but Carr finished the game with a pair of free throws. After the final horn, Allen reached over to give Rice a hug and yelled, “Sweet 16, baby!” he shouted.
Texas last advanced to the regional semifinals in 2008 and hasn’t advanced to the Final Four since 2003. Interim coach Rodney Terry was the assistant to that team, and the stalwart Longhorns made no secret of their love for their down-to-earth, rough-and-tumble players. A vocal leader who led Chris Byrd after domestic violence charges were dropped in December.
NO “D” FOR DISU
The Nittany Lions defended well against Texas, going 13-for-23 from 3-point range in the first round, but Disu was a different story. Disu, who hails from Pflugerville, Texas, outside Austin, joined the Longhorns last season after starting his career at Vanderbilt.
Named the Big 12 Most Outstanding Player, Disu is the tallest player on this guard-dominated team at 6-foot-9. His long arms and ability to gently shoot rainbow floaters in and around the paint, skills he’s added to his game recently, make him play bigger than he is.
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The Longhorns squeezed out Colgate’s nation-best 3-point shooting in their first-round win, while the Raiders went 3-for-15 from long range.
Penn State displayed that same perimeter threat, ranked fifth in the nation and coming off a 13-for-23 clinic in its first-round win over Texas A&M. The Nittany Lions set the Big Ten single-season record for three-pointers made.
This Texas defense has some sharp teeth. The Longhorns have held their previous five opponents, including Kansas twice and TCU, to an average of 57 points per game. Funk went up for a 3-pointer from the right wing 14 seconds into the game, a sign of how the night would go. Carr, Rice and Tyrese Hunter took turns following him.